Who We Are
I would like to share with you our biggest news: the transformation of Happy Families International to Life in Motion International. In the summer of 2016, we officially changed the mission and name of our corporation which we were working on during the last few years. Now, we are Life in Motion International!
When we opened Happy Families in 1994, we worked with children who needed medical attention and could not get it in Russia. Then, in 1996, we started our adoption program. After working with adoptions for many years, helping children to find loving families, being able to see their happiness and success - I look back with a smile. Seeing happy children and happy families is the most warming and rewarding feeling.
We believed that international adoption influenced and stimulated Russian people to adopt their own children and domestic adoption started to grow. It was a very important and positive change. A few years ago, we made a decision to close the adoption program at Happy Families. We felt it was time to concentrate on another mission: helping children with special needs – the one we started with.
Since then, we have been developing our "I Want To Walk" program which helps kids achieve their dream of walking. They get prosthetics, make their first steps on their own and become a confident and integral part of society.
Life moves on and this movement always inspires me. The name "Life in Motion" was so right for our corporation, for its new mission supporting children with different challenges and their motion in life.
Natasha Shaginian-Needham, M.D.
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Life in Motion- China
My name is Nancy Reffsin. I have been a social worker for over 40 years. I have worked with Natasha Shaginian-Needham for 25 years assisting families with adoptions and working with the children in need of prosthetics as well. My heart has always been taking care of children, providing services for children with emotional, medical, and special needs. Through Life in Motion International - China we have begun our work with “Children Left Behind” and other children who are in need of our services in China.
“Children Left Behind” are children who remain in the care of grandparents, friends, neighbors or older siblings after their parents have left the rural areas to find work. Many of these children have not seen their parents for over 6 years.. Their needs are great, their feelings of abandonment often lead to depression making them available for child trafficking, sexual abuse and suicide as well. Throughout China, in Anhui, Nanjing and in Tibet we find these children are in great need of our help by providing nutritional, medical and emotional support.
In May 2018 Natasha, myself and, my daughter, Anni traveled to China and began our work in more depth. We are very pleased to begin these new programs together and have many plans for our future work.
Nancy Reffsin LICSW, LCSW, DCSW
China Program Coordinator
Board of Directors
Peter Greenleaf was born in Michigan, but grew up in a small college town in New Hampshire with his three brothers. His father was a professor and his mother was a doctor.
He studied Russian at Vanderbilt University and Slavic Linguistics at the graduate level at Yale University. His plans to become a professor did not come to pass, nor did his plans to become a doctor, in spite of three years of research in endocrinology at NYU School of Medicine and his being on waiting list for medical school.
A chance introduction sent him to London and then Madrid for over three years in the "commodities space", where he works to this day. He worked in Russia from 2006 to 2012 for oil and gas companies - TNK-BP and Vitol, S.A. in senior positions.
Peter is now based in the USA. He divides his time between Stamford, CT, Stanford, CA and Moscow, Russia.
Mickael has spent the last 7 years working in the technology sector, starting, growing and consulting for companies ranging from startups to multinational enterprises.
His deep understanding of the digital space combined with his international background (Mickael has lived in 6 countries) are helping Life In Motion reach a global audience and share our vision online. Mickael has a degree in Business Administration from the University of Monaco and is currently living in Dubai.
Larissa brings more than 20 years of event planning and management experience. While she started with a small, local event planning company, her experience ranges from national-level scholarship award events, coordination of international conferences and symposia, and large-scale community school safety programs. She has also served in key managerial roles in the nonprofit sphere, where she organized fundraisers, coordinated overseas group travel, and administered direct charitable aid to overseas recipients. With a BA in Business/Marketing, and with many years of direct business management experience, Larissa provides the full spectrum of budget and resource management skills and the ability to plan, schedule and execute. She also brings a reputation for the unique and creative, the unexpected and the memorable, but always in keeping with the client’s tastes and intentions.
Alexander D'Jamoos grew up in an orphanage for children with physical disabilities in Nizhny Lomov, Russia. With the help of Life in Motion (former Happy Families International Center,Inc), at the age of 15, Alex underwent a bilateral amputation and started walking on prostheses. His host family adopted him in 2007. Alex participated in many of the events organized by Life in Motion, including hiking Mount Kilimanjaro twice to raise funds for Russian orphans. Alex helps manage the organization's website and social media. He received a BA in Government at the University of Texas at Austin and is currently pursuing a law degree at Boston University.
Don Cummings - Honorary and Advisory Member
Don is one of the most respected prosthetics specialists in the world with experience in more than a dozen countries worldwide. Since 1987, he has been holding the position of Director of Prosthetics at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. Here are some of the highlights of Don's career and achievements:
- 2013Fellow of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (FAAOP)
- Member, International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO)
- TX Licensed Prosthetist (#20029) by Texas Board of Orthotics & Prosthetics
- Board member, American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists
Tony Herring - Honorary and Advisory Member
Tony Herring is the Chief of Staff Emeritus at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and professor at the the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Department of Orthopedic surgery. Among the many Honors and Awards he has received, Tony was listed among the "Best Doctors in America" by American Health and was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by German Speaking Society of Pediatric Orthopedics.
Tatiana is an expert in designing, producing & managing the entire spectrum of custom corporate, non-profit and luxury social events. With 20 years of executive management Tatiana’s reputation is built on integrity, a meticulous attention to detail, the highest standards of professional excellence, creative thinking & problem solving. Tatiana is based in New Jersey but her events take her to New York, Miami, Chicago, Washington DC and Moscow.
Tatiana is also the General Manager of Rus Management, Inc., NYC, an affiliate of Rostik International Group.
She has a Masters degree in Business Administration and BA in Economics and Russian.
Previously the President of the Eastern American Region and Executive Director of the NY Metropolitan Chapter of St. George Pathfinders of America, a non-profit, world-wide scouting organization, Tatiana is an officer of SGPA. She organizes international group trips, adventure, education and leadership programs and plans large jamborees.